WHY IS MY DOG OBSESSED WITH MY HAND?
If you have more than one dog in your household, you will understand something about them. Each dog is unique. Even though there are similarities in temperaments, shapes, and sizes among breeds, each dog has different personalities to them. Even at that every dog still has this obsession with licking its owner, whether it is the hand or the face. So when your dog shows an obsession with licking your hands, what does that actually mean? “Why is my dog obsessed with my hands?”
In summary, your dog may be obsessed with your hands for the following reasons:
1. Your dog is grooming you
2. Your dog is trying to communicate with you
3. Your dog may have a compulsive disorder
4. Your dog is showing you affection
5. Your dog is investigating your hand
6. Your dog is being playful
7. Your dog has health issues
Let us explain each of these in detail for you.
Your dog is grooming you.
If you have watched a group of dogs interact for some time, one thing you will notice is how they take turns in grooming each other. This comes from a primal instinct, basically, back in the days, their ancestors took turns to groom each other, especially the part of their body that they would be unable to reach naturally.
These places included their ears, buttocks, paws, and much more areas.
As of today, that same instinct is alive and well in dogs. It does not matter whether they are domesticated and well-groomed, immediately they find themselves in a pack (or group), they would immediately start grooming each other. Fast track that to yourself. You are now part of the pack and more so, you are the alpha, which means you are likely to get special treatment.
From your hands to your ears and foot nowhere is safe from your dog’s grooming if allowed, Your hand unfortunately seems to be an easy target for grooming. So if you have been asking yourself why does “my dog licks my hand when I pet her?” or “why does my dog lick my wrist“. The simple answer here is that “your dog is grooming you“.
Your dog is trying to communicate with you.
Your dog may be acting obsessed with your hands in a bid to communicate with you. A normal licking of one’s hand by a dog is fairly calm. But if you have a situation where the licking is more frantic, and your dog is acting excited when doing so, he or she may be trying to communicate something to you.
In this scenario paying close attention to your dog’s body language will prove useful. For example, your dog licking your hands frantically while wagging its tail in an excited manner might be its way of reminding you that it is time for its daily walk. Licking your hand frantically and tucking in their tail might be a sign that they are feeling some sensation that they can’t explain or they are stressed out because of an event that happened.
Basically, you will have to take out time to read the cues your dog gives and try and make meaning out of the situation.
Your dog may have a compulsive disorder.
If you are wondering “why is my dog obsessed with my hands?” It can be a result of a compulsive disorder. You see, dogs with compulsive tendencies do not just obsess and lick on their owner’s hands, they tend to lick different spots on their body and others go as far as licking anything they can have access to. This can be a piece of furniture, a wall, any available surface, empty dishes, etc.
In situations like this, it is best advised that you consult your vet doctor immediately. Your dog should be thoroughly checked and given a clean bill of health or treated for any health issues identified. If your vet doctor can clear your dog of any health issue but the compulsive licking continues, you will have to get the help of an animal behaviorist to help you deal with this problem in your dog.
Your dog is showing you affection
Your dog being obsessed with your hands or licking and nuzzling on your hands can be their way of showing affection to you. Your dog is using this way to let you know that he or she loves you and is very comfortable being around you. The nuzzling and licking of you are one of the ways in which your dog bonds with you.
You see one of the ways a dog tries to bond with us is called “scent marking”. They will lick and nuzzle on our hands in an obsessed way to put their scent on you. This will act as a sort of signature. Every dog can identify the scent of another dog, the stronger a dog’s scent is on you, the more it shows to other dogs that you belong to him or her.
To be clear, dogs do not do this to everybody, so if they are trying to do it to you, then they must consider you to be very special.
Your dog is investigating your hand.
Believe it or not, your dog’s obsession with your hand can be his or her way of trying to learn more about you. You see, a dog’s sense of taste and smell is very heightened. These senses are developed to a level that we as humans cannot imagine.
Our dogs explore their surroundings mainly with the senses of taste and smell. With the heightened development of these senses, a dog can tell a lot about you just by licking and nuzzling your hands. They can tell what meal you have eaten for the day, where you have likely been, whom you probably interacted with in the cause of the day, and much more.
The more dirty and sweaty we get, the easier it is for them to extract this information from our body just by obsessing around our hands and licking them. In fact, our dogs are more attracted to us when we are sweaty and all because that is when we are closer to our real state of being.
So if your dog is obsessed with your hand, he or she might just be trying to learn more about you.
Your dog is being playful.
A characteristic more common in puppies, they would naturally act obsessed with your hands in a bid to get you to start playing with them. Just to be clear, even though puppies are known to act like this, there are older dogs who would still try to use to same tactics to get you to play with them.
Normally, whether it is an older dog or a puppy, in addition to playing with your hands, they would move around playfully around you in order to get your full attention.
A quick note. It is always good to train your puppy early enough not to be obsessed with your hands when they are trying to initiate play. The reason simply is that if encouraged, they might grow up believing that it is ok to mouth certain parts of your body (your hand in this instance).
There are many dog parents who have gotten injured in the heat of play with an older dog just because they were not properly trained and kept mouthing them as they grew.
Your dog has health issues.
If your dog in addition to being obsessed with your hands is also licking its own skin compulsively and shows signs of itching, then your dog definitely has health issues. These are usually in the form of skin issues or allergies, although not limited to them.
The only point of action to take in this scenario would be to go to a vet doctor for advice. Hopefully, the solution would be some lotion or soothing baths. Even if it involves diet changes or some medication, your dog would likely get better after a while. The earlier the problem is reported to a vet doctor the better for all parties involved.
So there you have it. These are all the possible answers to the question “Why is my dog obsessed with my hands?” the next question would be – How do you get your dog to stop being obsessed with your hands.
HOW TO GET A DOG TO STOP LICKING YOUR HANDS
Basically, your dog obsessing about your hand and licking them once in a while should not be a major source of concern. But if it is something they do continuously, to the extent of it being a normal daily habit then you have to put a stop to it immediately.
Here are some steps you can take to stop your dog from being obsessed with your hands.
i. Start Obedience training to redirect this habit: If your dog tries to start licking your hands and acting obsessed with it, you can let out an “Ouch” sound and leave the area for him. For the first time, a ten to twenty minutes period is ok. After the time elapses, come back and start playing with your dog, if it is still insistent on obsessing after your hand then leave him and increase the time-out period, for example, the second timeout period may be up to thirty minutes.
As time goes on, with the timeout being elongated more, you do would get to understand that licking or obsessing after your hands will only cause him to be abandoned. This is certainly not what your dog wants and he or she would be forced to stop obsessing after your hand if they want your company.
ii. Provide other alternatives: This is something very important to do especially when the dogs are still young. Providing toys and puzzles around your dog will give them something else to lick on and obsess over. Young puppies with teething challenges can chew on the toys and lick to their heart’s satisfaction without being judged. Older dogs with puzzle toys get to access a reward at the end of their game.
iii. Exercise the dog properly: Boredom and neglect can make a dog pick up some bad habits just to get your attention, in this case obsessing over your hands. Engaging them in some form of physical exercise from time to time not only helps to deal with their boredom, but the exercising is also good for their general health and will make your dog bond with you better.
An average dog would be happy at the prospect of going on a walk with their dog parents or engaging in any form of physical activity with them. You see going for a walk with a dog can be the equivalent of going and experiencing your favorite places. New smells to investigate, new tastes to revel in, more sounds and sights to discover. Most dogs after a daily walk would have been engaged both physically and mentally enough for them to come back home and just relax without making a fuss of anything.
Engage the experts: When all other routines or tricks to change your dog’s behavior fails, try and involve an expert to help you. This may be your vet doctor, dog trainer, or animal behaviorist. Who knows, there might be more going on with your dog than you can establish properly. These experts would have enough knowledge and experience to understand and guide your dog through whatever challenges they may be experiencing.
OTHER COMMON QUESTIONS
Why does my dog lick my hands and feet?
Your dog licks your hands and feet as a way to show you some respect and honor. They are very much aware that you are their dog parent and love being your day-to-day companion. Licking your hand and feet is their own way of giving you some attention and affection
Why does my dog lick my hands when I play dead?
Your dog can tell a lot about you just by licking your hands, so if your dog is licking your hands while you are playing dead, they are trying to make sense of the current situation. But your dog would not likely lick only your hands, they would lick your face and any other part of your body that is accessible to them in order to make their own informed decision about the situation.
What does it mean when a dog licks your hand for a long time?
A dog that licks your hand for a long time shows that the dog is anxious. This dog is likely suffering from separation anxiety and is likely to need urgent attention or treatment.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.